LHF Celebrates New Floating Classroom

On a warm and windy Friday evening, May 4, members and supporters of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation (LHF) gathered on the dock of the Garden State Yacht Club for the christening of a new floating classroom.

As she swung the champagne bottle at the hull, Donna Macalle-Holly, acting executive director of the foundation, revealed the name of the boat: Study Hull. It was chosen by Kimberly Murphy during the Giving Tuesday campaign in December 2017.

Donna Macalle-Holly watches the champagne pouring out of the bottle she used to christen Study Hull. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Macalle-Holly reviewed the history that led up to the recent launching of the vessel. Lee Moreau, one of the captains of Lake Hopatcong’s Miss Lotta cruise boat, caught word of the Gannett Foundation’s “A Community Thrives.” The program awards three grants in each of three categories on the basis of a video and public voting. Moreau was spokesperson on the application video and the LHF heavily publicized the need for votes. From more than 1,000 submissions, the foundation won a $50,000 grant on the basis of the video and the online voting. Macalle-Holly received word of the grant on June 2, 2017.

Then the LHF set about building the boat. Bob Kays contacted marinas around the country to obtain estimates as a starting point. Gabriella Litterio introduced the foundation board to professor Raju Datla, assistant director (Naval) at Stevens Institute of Technology’s marine research Davidson Laboratory. Datla put them in touch with Chris Mandalakis, president of Coastwise Consulting, a naval architect/marine engineer. He assisted foundation chair Marty Kane and Tom Bush, another Miss Lotta captain, in developing the bid specs.

The winning bidder was Sightseer Marine in Hudson, Florida. The boat is 40 by 12 feet and holds 40 passengers and crew.

The interior of the new floating classroom. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

Headquarters for the classroom will be Hopatcong State Park. Macalle-Holly thanked the park staff and the state Division of Parks and Forestry for their commitment to the floating classroom. She also thanked Walt Weglinski of AAA Dock and Dredge for offering to install a permanent dock. Since the state park cannot allow a permanent structure, a floating dock will be installed instead. Until that is completed, Lisa Palanchi, chief operating officer of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, has arranged for Study Hull to be docked at Lakeland Marine Base near the foundation’s office on Nolan’s Point.

“The floating classroom is part of our educational field trip initiative,” said Macalle-Holly. She thanked the LHF volunteers who help with the field trips and asked them to raise their hands to be recognized. She also thanked Debbie DeFeo of Ohaus Corporation, manufacturers of laboratory equipment, for a donation of $800 worth of scientific equipment and supplies.

Other grant funds came from the James P. Verhalen Family Foundation and the Szigethy family.

Longtime lake activist Cliff Lundin and Lake Hopatcong Foundation president Jessica Murphy at the launch of Study Hull. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

The christening of Study Hull preceded the Lake Hopatcong Foundation’s annual meeting. (Related Story You May Enjoy: Murphy Returns as President of Lake Hopatcong Foundation at Annual Meeting)

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